Councilmember Allen Introduces Legislation to Ensure Selective Public High Schools are Accessible to All Students

Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) introduced a bill that would ensure top students from any DC public school could apply to any citywide DC public high school.

The bill comes following a policy change last year by some schools requiring applicants to have a 4 or 5 on the PARCC test to even be allowed to apply.

Councilmember Allen’s bill, the Fair Access to Selective High Schools Amendment Act of 2019, would mark all students ranked in the top 15 percent in their class eligible to apply to citywide selective high schools. Last year, following the policy change, only three students in Ward 8 schools even met the admission requirement. The number of students who applied to one selective high school dropped by almost half.

“High-stakes standardized test scores meant to assess schools shouldn’t be used to block access to opportunity for individual schools. These tests bring a ton of bias to the public school admissions process and automatically exclude hardworking students from across the District,” said Councilmember Allen. “A quick glance at the data tells us who we are shutting out by relying only on test data: at-risk students, African-American boys, non-native English speakers, and students with disabilities.”

The legislation would also require 7th grade students and parents be notified at the start of the school year what standards are for admissions. When the PARCC test was first created, it was billed as a school evaluation tool, and not one that would determine what doors would be open or closed for individual students.

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